Gloria Rubio-Cortés, president of the National Civic League and a veteran business, philanthropic and non-profit organization leader, has joined Common Cause’s National Governing Board. “Gloria’s background in civil rights, community building, civic engagement and social justice issues makes her a perfect fit for Common Cause,” said Bob Edgar, Common Cause’s president and chief executive officer. “She has dedicated her professional life to civic leadership.”
A resident of Denver, Ms. Rubio-Cortés serves as executive editor of NCL’s quarterly National Civic Review, as well as the organization’s president. She is a member of the Denver Library Commission and the executive committee of the Deliberative Democracy Foundation and serves on the boards of Mile High United Way, Radio Bilingue, and the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado.
Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy, reinventing an open, honest, and accountable government that works for the public interest, and empowering ordinary people to make their voices heard.
Senior Connections, a home and community-based service organization in Atlanta, has announced that Liane Levetan, former CEO for DeKalb County (1993 – 2000) will receive the 2011 ”Community Connections” Award. This award, established in 2009, recognizes older adults who have been and continue to be outstanding business and community leaders and have given back significantly to the communities in which they live and work.
During her tenure as CEO, DeKalb County won an All-America City Award.
The Community Connections award ceremony will take place during Senior Connections’ third annual ‘Senior Prom’ on Saturday, May 21. Atlanta’s beloved Monica Pearson, WSB-TV Anchor, will serve as the prom’s Master of Ceremony. The ‘black-tie optional’ fundraiser with its theme: “Celebrating Aging!” will be held at the Letitia Pate Evans Building on the Agnes Scott College Campus in Decatur and will include a reception, silent auction and dinner program. Dancing to the sounds of a big band orchestra, will top off the evening.
“It was just for fun,” said Statesville Mayor Costi Kutteh. “It’s not a promotional video. It’s not a marketing piece. It’s just Statesville folks having fun in their hometown.”
Statesville, an All-America City in 2009, put together a video with city officials and residents dancing around the town to the tune of the song, “I Got a Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. It’s worth a look.
From the city’s website:
Among the nearly 200 participants in the video, you’ll see Mayor Kutteh, City Council members Ron Matthews and Bonita Eisele, along with numerous City employees, their family members and friends. Along the street, you’ll see Statesville Police Detective Sharon Watts and Fire Marshall Mike Billings.
“It was so much fun,” said Matthews. “I’ve only heard great response from around those who have seen it.”
The chamber of commerce CEO and civic booster par extraordinaire David Bradley got the idea from a “lip dub” he saw on NBC’s Today Show. He asked Nancy Davis, the city’s public affairs director, if they could do something similar in Statesville.
“The video is filmed in one shot. It starts at the Chamber building and ends on the square without stopping the camera. The song….was playing over big speakers throughout the streets as the filming was going on and participants were strategically placed along the route to sing and dance with the music. Then it was edited so that the music was synched with the video.
“Fun,” that’s all I can say, said Davis. “It was just fun.”
To read about Statesville’s All-America City projects, link here.
Greeley West High School students and staff members held their second annual EthnicFest this week.
The student-led initiative featured a week of cultural learning experiences students, staff and the community as a whole. The goal was to highlight various cultures in the community to promote understanding and unity.
Daytime events for West students included a UNC cheerleader who overcame homelessness; a cultural panel of students representing the many Hispanic, Burmese, African and Caucasian cultures that co-mingle at the school; Native American musicians who perform with an array of authentic and unique instruments; a literal globe-trekker; and a final half-day learning experience with a wide variety of sights, sounds and tastes from across the planet.
“We made sure to reach out and include as many different viewpoints as we can,” said senior Sabrina Harms, who was a key assistant for last year’s inaugural EthnicFest. “Our intent is to leave no one out.”
This is the Syracuse Cultural Workers take on how to build a thriving community.
Turn off your TV
Leave your house
Know your neighbors
Look up when you are walking
Sit on your stoop
Use your library
Buy from local merchants
Share what you have
Help a lost dog
Take children to the park
Support Neighborhood Schools
Fix it even if you didn’t break it
Have Pot Lucks
Pick Up Litter
Read Stories Aloud
Dance in the Street
Talk to the Mail Carrier
Listen to the Birds
Put up a Swing
Help Carry Something Heavy
Barter For Your Goods
Start A Tradition
Ask A Question
Hire Young People for Odd Jobs
Organize a Block Party
Bake Extra and Share
Ask For Help When You Need It
Open Your Shades
Share Your Skills
Take Back the Night
Turn Up The Music
Turn Down The Music
Listen Before You react To Anger
Mediate A Conflict
Seek To Understand
Learn From New And
Know That No One is Silent
Though Many Are Not Heard
Work To Change This
It may be while before Congress addresses the critical issues of climate change and sustainability, but a growing number of communities across the country are applying their own approaches, and collectively, they have a story to tell about what it takes to be successful.
Their experiences are highlighted in the fall 2010 edition of the National Civic Review. The entire contents of this special issue will be available for free at this URL. (Click on the individual PDFs listed in the online table of contents.)
The issue focuses on sustainability initiatives in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Philadelphia, Tampa, Dubuque, Chattanooga, rural Kansas, El Paso, Texas and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, among others.
Several of the examples are recent All-America Cities or finalists.
Taken collectively, these stories represent an emerging narrative about how America will take on its most pressing challenges during the next half century. The special issue of NCR was made possible with support from the American Institute of Architects Center for Communities by Design.
They say you can’t fight city hall, but in El Paso, Texas, you may not have to. The city’s local and appointed officials have gone out of their way to seek input from the city’s 67 neighborhood organizations, and if a neighborhood doesn’t have an association, the city’s Neighborhood Services division will help them organize one.
In the past, existing neighborhood groups tended to get engaged when a “hot button” issue was before the council. Otherwise, the residents weren’t particularly active, and some parts of the city had no neighborhood associations at all. Local leaders realized they needed to provide more opportunities for citizens to be active in government and worked to develop specific strategies to help educate, organize and empower citizens.
The program dates back to 2003, when then mayor Joe Wordy and the El Paso City Council passed the city’s first Neighborhood Recognition ordinance. The city hired a neighborhood liaison to help set the wheels in motion.
“We decided to set up a structure where you would have recognized neighborhood associations,” said El Paso Mayor John Cook, a city council member at the time. “Not just people who got together because their garbage wasn’t picked up or something like that but (people who) really wanted to improve their community.”
Around the same time, El Paso was switching from a council-mayor form of government, to a council-manager system, and when Joyce Wilson, the new city manager came on board, she spearheaded a visioning process to identify challenges and policy goals. A Neighborhood Services division was created to formalize the new emphasis on neighborhood power.
In 2006, an improved Neighborhood Recognition ordinance was adopted to further define neighborhood boundaries. The city identified those neighborhoods that weren’t represented and started looking for ways to bring them to the table.
An annual Neighborhood Leadership Academy was convened to provide citizens with the direction and savvy they need to navigate city processes and to become neighborhood resources and ambassadors. The academy seeks out nontraditional leaders to ensure that all members of the community are represented.
The city is also putting money behind the new empowerment ethos. A Neighborhood Improvement Program gives residents opportunities to submit their own neighborhood-driven small-scale capital projects. During the first two rounds of the program, $850,000 has been expended and 21 projects completed.
“You can give people an open (microphone) all you want,” said Cook, “but if you don’t give them any money to really make a difference in their community, they’re going to get frustrated and the apathy kicks in once again.”
The number of neighborhood associations has increased from 35 to 67, and citizens feel they have more say in the decision-making process. “The city council now asks if the associations are aware of regulatory changes and they ask for our feedback,” said Lynn Coyle, president of the Newman Park Neighborhood Association.
Mayor Cook said the city’s citizen engagement program has buy-in from all the city council members who actively go out and speak in neighborhoods to try to get people more actively involved.
“You’re a wonderful community,” said Sharon Metz, foreperson of the All-America City Award jury after the El Paso delegation presented its case at the 2010 award program in Kansas City. “I’ve always said if people in the community do not care who gets the credit and just work together you can do amazing things, and obviously your community is an example of that.”
The Folsom Cordova Unified School District Liaison for Homeless Services has informed Project 680 of a big need for hooded sweatshirts (otherwise known as “hoodies”) for homeless students in the FCUSD. Therefore, Project 680 has decided to hold a hoody drive from September 27-October 27, 2010. The entire community is invited to get involved in the goal to collect 680 new hoodies.
Together we can make a difference in the lives of local homeless students in our community. Not only will new hoodies help keep kids warm during the colder months, but they’ll speak volumes to students about how the community is looking out for them. Here are some links:
The 2010 All-America City quilt began a 25-city tour today, allowing each of the communities that participated in the annual civic recognition program an opportunity to display the finished patchwork.
“To me the quilt is a vibrant illustration of what is working in American communities,” said NCL President Gloria Rubio-Cortes, noting that each of the 25 communities named All-America City finalists in 2010 added an individual square to the quilt.
“Quilts are an important part of documenting our history,” she added. “The All-America City quilt honors the people from the 25 communities who told their stories and pledged to make their communities stronger, better and safer places to live.”
First stop on the national tour will be Chandler, Arizona. The quilt will visit 19 states during the next year, making its final stop in Middleton, Wisconsin.
The quilt became an instant tradition in 2007, when Gloria, an avid quilter, came up with the idea of asking participants to contribute individual squares depicting something about their respective communities.
Jane McAtee, Corporate Community Affairs and Grassroots for Southwest Airlines, the official airlines of the awards program for the past three years, dropped by the NCL offices to see off the quilt.
Los Angeles Ambassador In Education Gladys Aldana and students
In this new report, National Civic League shares stories of extraordinary educators recognized by MetLife Foundation Ambassadors In Education Awards Program and the universal themes their work represented. This program demonstrated that educators, be they principals or teachers, have a civic role to play. It reflects on lessons learned over seven years (2003-2009). Profiles of the award-winning examples of educators (principals and teachers) describe how educators went above and beyond their usual classroom duties to show outstanding leadership in building bridges between their schools and their communities. To view complete report, click HERE.